Not all work-related injuries in Virginia are immediately known. Sometimes an injury can take years to show up. A good example of this is carpal tunnel disease which occurs gradually over time as you continue to do something that causes extreme stress to your hands or asthma from breathing mold at work.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act requires you to report a disease within two years from the date that you are told that the disease is caused by your workplace. This date of communication becomes the accident date used by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. Once you have received your diagnosis you will also have to prove your claim and show that the disease is a result of your work duties. You need to build a solid case to prove that your situation is a compensable workers compensation claim.
1. Medical evidence
You need to provide sufficient medical evidence that diagnoses your disease and what caused it. Your doctor will need to explain precisely what is going on with your affected body part. For example, if the issue is with your wrist, the doctor needs to provide evidence of what is happening with that body part that proves it is caused by repetitive stress at the job.
2. Employers actions
You will also have to show that the conditions of your workplace caused the disease. Pictures showing the conditions are helpful. One example of this would be photographs of mold in your workplace. Samples of the mold will need to be saved for testing to confirm they are causing your symptoms. For carpal tunnel claims a video of how you perform the job is helpful for your doctor to review.
3. Effect on work
Workers’ compensation also requires that you prove the injury prevents your ability to perform your pre-injury job duties. If you cannot show that the injury prevents you from doing your job or that the injury makes performing your job duties difficult, then you likely will not have a substantial claim.
Occupational disease cases such as carpal tunnel and asthma are tricky because they do not happen right away. You cannot tie them to one singular incident like many other types of work injuries. This means you may have to provide additional evidence to get approval for a workers’ compensation claim.
4. Outside work conditions
What exposure you have outside of the workplace will also become very important to your case. For example, if you perform hobbies at home that also involve repetitive activity this could exclude you from receiving workers compensation benefits. Likewise, if it is proven that you have been exposed to mold outside of your workplace this could exclude you from receiving workers compensation benefits.
5. Attorney Involvement
A good attorney will spend a significant amount of time building a successful case for you. Obtaining a full and accurate history of your work activities as well as all outside activities becomes vital in developing a winning claim. Retention of specialized doctors to review this information and provide medical opinions is an area that your attorney can assist you with in your claim for workers compensation benefits.